Sunday, March 7, 2021
Vaccinations Eclipse COVID Cases
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Those skiing Sun Valley over President’s Day Weekend showed up in masks as dictated by the ski resort.
   
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPHS BY PAUL RIES

More Idahoans have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the director of Idaho Health and Welfare announced Tuesday.

Of course, that doesn’t include the many Idahoans who believe they had COVID-19 but were unable to be tested because of a shortage of testing supplies in the early days of the pandemic.

 
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Blaine County has not enjoyed such a low number of new COVID cases since Jan. 9, said Paul Ries. Blaine County has recorded 22 new cases since Friday—an average of five a day—for a total of 2,124. But another Blaine County resident has died of COVID for a total of 16.
 

As of Tuesday, 191,701 Idahoans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 67,723 receiving both, Dave Jeppesen said. The number of confirmed and probably COVID-19 cases has exceeded 168,000.

That includes 4,419 Blaine County residents, of which 1,014 have received both shots.

As of Monday, the state has received 324,917 doses of vaccine. Ninety-five percent of first doses have been administered.

The state currently has 55,000 second doses—32,000 Idahoans are due to receive their second dose this week and 35,000 are due to get it next week.

 
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The state reported 462 new cases of COVID on Tuesday for a total of 167,945. The state has lost just 10 more residents since Saturday for a total of 1,806.
 

Idaho continues to receive 25,000 doses a week from the federal government. And Albertsons and Walmart are now receiving 5,000 additional doses a week via the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

And that number could increase, said Idaho’s Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch. Doses so far have been distributed among 29 Albertsons, including Hailey’s. There are 10 participating Walmarts, including those in Twin Falls and Jerome.

In fact, the White House announced Tuesday afternoon that it was doubling the number of doses being delivered to retail pharmacies to two million doses a week.

Shaw-Tulloch says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be reviewed Feb. 26. If approved as expected, Idaho could start receiving doses in five-dose vials beginning March 2.

Jeppesen said state health officials are trying to remedy the frustration of Idaho’s senior population who are having trouble finding and scheduling vaccines. Gov. Brad Little received numerous calls Tuesday during his AARP talk from frustrated seniors, including an 80-year-old who has had cancer for 13 years and has not been able to score an appointment.

Hailey resident Paul Ries likened the search for vaccines to something resembling whack-a-mole.

“I prefer to think of it as the vaccine shell game,” he said. “You see someone has vaccines, you go to their website to schedule and appointments are not there. So, you look somewhere else where there are supposedly vaccines, only to repeat the process.”

Currently, 91,500 Idahoans 65 and older have received their first dose. That’s just short of a third of Idaho’s estimated 291,000 seniors. That number includes 7,100 nursing home residents who received vaccines through CVS and Walgreens. Some nursing home residents are believed to have been vaccinated by other pharmacies.

Right now, providers can only schedule one week at a time after ascertaining they have enough doses on hand. But Little is hopeful the state can triple or quadruple its vaccines within the next month. And the state is trying to arrange three weeks of vaccine distribution informationt so that providers might be able to schedule three week’s worth of appointments, Jeppesen said.

“There are still a couple hundred thousand people over 65 that need to be scheduled, but they will get vaccinated,” he promised.

There have been stories across the country of how nursing home residents who have been fully vaccinated are now being allowed to congregate again over cups of coffee. Here in Idaho the ability to do that has been hampered by the reluctance of some staff members in long-term facilities to get vaccinated.

Shaw-Tulloch said the state is working on messaging to address their concerns. Many may simply be taking a wait-and-see attitude, she said.

The state has a long-term strike team working on these issues, said State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn. In the meantime, the state is recommending that those in long-term care facilities continue mask wearing in community settings as it awaits federal guidance on what to do if not everyone is vaccinated.

Shaw-Tulloch acknowledged that people are traveling across county lines to get vaccines. That includes people from Canyon County who work in Boise and get a vaccine in Ada County. And it includes Blaine County residents who this week got vaccines at Walmarts in Twin Falls and Jerome.

The Walmart in Twin Falls was also fielding customers from Boise.

Both it and the Jerome Walmart were even taking walk-up appointments since they had available slots and vaccine.

“Philosophically we want everyone to get the vaccine. We don’t want to make it too burdensome,” said Shaw-Tulloch. “We are trying to keep track of (those crossing county lines) and get vaccine to where people are so they don’t have to travel.”

Those who have received a first dose should try to get their second doses three weeks after receiving a Pfizer vaccine and four weeks after a Moderna vaccine, said Hahn. But getting that booster shot up to 42 days following the initial vaccine is considered okay, should someone not be able to get their second dose as scheduled because they’re sick.

“Even if that’s not possible, most experts say it’s okay to get a second dose even later than that,” she added.

President Biden promised the nation will have 400 million doses of vaccine by the end of May and 600 million by the end of July, with a quick boost to the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. If some of those are single doses, that would be enough to vaccinate all Americans.

MORE VACCINE NEWS

  • St. Alphonsus is opening Idaho’s first permanent off-site mass vaccination clinic in the 50,000-square—foot building that used to be Gordmans department store in The Village at Meridian. The hospital has administered more than 25,000 vaccine doses at its hospitals and clinics.

    Hospital officials hope the mass vaccination site will streamline the process and reduce disruption to patients at hospitals and clinics.

  • Workers at the Ada County Courthouse and federal courthouse in Boise have been given vaccinations, even though they aren’t eligible until April at the earliest, according to KTVB.
  • The pandemic has started to slow in Israel after that country outpaced the world in vaccinating its population against COVID-19. Infections and the number of seriously ill people are down 95 percent, particularly among those over 60—one of the groups targeted early on.
  • Those who have been infected with the coronavirus appear to be just as likely to get reinfected from the new variant from South Africa as those who never had COVID. Given that, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it appears that a vaccine offers better protection.
  • The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are essentially 100 percent effective against serious disease, according to Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    “They’re going to save your life,” says Dr. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine.

    Indeed, of 32,000 people who received the vaccines during research trials, only one contracted a severe COVID case.

    And, while doctors keep warning that no one knows whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, the likelihood of them doing so is almost nil, according to Dr. Paul Sac of Harvard University.

  • People who have received both of their vaccine shots and have waited until they take effect will be able to do things that unvaccinated people cannot—like having meals together and hugging their grandchildren, says Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.

But those who are fully vaccinated are urged to wear face masks to protect the unvaccinated and set an example for others for the time being.

 

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